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Team Studies Self-Consolidating Concrete

Thursday, March 10, 2016

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A team of university researchers is looking to make self-consolidating concrete the go-to product for construction in the U.S.

Ultimately, the team is working to improve self-consolidating concrete for applications in hard-to-reach areas where humans can’t easily manipulate it, such as parking garages, bridges or other structures.

Feys
Missouri University of Science and Technology

One challenge the team faces is how to make the concrete homogenous throughout, according to Dr. Dimitri Feys, who is leading the research.

“The main use of this concrete is in Japan and Europe—100 percent of the pre-cast industry in Denmark uses this type—and it slowly is making its way in the U.S. market,” according to Dr. Dimitri Feys, assistant professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Feys is leading a research effort to improve self-consolidating concrete, the university announced in a March 3 news release.

Rocky Road Ahead

According to the university, the team faces a number of challenges in its work, including discovering a way to keep the concrete homogenous throughout the produced structural element.

Uniform distribution of the aggregate is key to producing a beam that is strong throughout.

“If the gravel sinks to the bottom as the concrete flows through the form—known as dynamic segregation—it negatively affects the finished product’s quality in strength and durability,” the university reports.

Going the Distance

So far, the team has created 30-foot beams and 60-foot beams as part of the project. However, the researchers say the 60-foot flow distance appears to be “a step too far.”

“It went good, but not perfect,” Feys said of a Feb. 16 test pour.

He explained that the rate of flow largely affects the distance. The team is reportedly modifying the concrete mixture as well as adding super-plasticizers in order to obtain an easy, fast flow while keeping the aggregate dispersed.

bridge in Denmark
©iStock.com / gabrielasauciuc

Feys' team is looking at ways to make self-consolidating concrete more suitable for bridge building and other construction projects.

Dr. Julie Ann Hartell, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Oklahoma State University, and Feys are also using ultrasound testing techniques to evaluate homogeneity of the beams produced, the university said.

“Inferior properties in specific zones of precast beams can lead to reduced durability, leading to a premature need for repair or replacement, which in the end will cost taxpayers more money,” Feys noted.

The team includes engineering undergraduate and graduate students. The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Research on Concrete Applications for Sustainable Transportation (RE-CAST) consortium.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Cement; Engineers; Parking Garages; Research and development; Technology

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